€74m next generation silicon IGBT project starts

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Over the coming three years, 43 partners from eight countries will develop new silicon IGBT devices with higher power density and energy efficiency in the Power2Power project. This aims to develop the first qualified technology for IGBTs above 1700V on 300 mm wafers, as well as devices with a 200°C junction temperature, allowing a 20 per cent increased power density and 50 per cent longer lifetime. This can provide a 10 per cent reduction of losses in usage in train converters.

“Collaboration across different levels of the supply chain is a basis for the success of the European microelectronics industry,” said Dr Reinhard Ploss, CEO of Infineon Technologies, which is leading the project. “We are also pursuing this approach in the Power2Power cooperation project. In collaboration with our partners, we will be working on new power semiconductors and system architectures with higher energy efficiency. Our goal is: more power from less energy.”

Two thirds of the €74m is going to German partners from their government and the states of Saxony and Thuringia, along with EU backing from the ECSEL (Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership) program. The partners from the other seven countries are also being sponsored by their national authorities.

“Saxony is the largest microelectronics cluster in Europe,” said Michael Kretschmer, Minister-President of Saxony. “European cooperation, such as Power2Power, is enormously important for the continued development of Silicon Saxony. The project takes into account all stages of the supply chain and combines innovation with energy efficiency. This could make a significant contribution towards increasing the competitiveness of the European microelectronics industry. This is one of the reasons why the Free State of Saxony welcomes and supports this research project.”

The supply chain for power semiconductors is extensive in Germany, from silicon wafers from Siltronic, to IGBT production at Infineon in Dresden and subsequent module production at Infineon in Warstein, to systems and the associated knowledge, for example from the SMEs EAAT and AVL and from Dresden University of Technology.

The Power2Power partners, which includes ABB and Powernet in Finland, Powertec in Slovakia and Jiako Instruments in the Netherlands, will develop digitized pilot lines at German sites, combining different disciplines and knowledge areas in a heterogeneous power-ECS environment.

“Microelectronics is a key for successful industrial products from Germany and Europe,” said Dr. Herbert Zeisel, undersecretary in the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). “The latest trade disputes illustrate how sovereignty and autonomy are dependent on a country’s own capabilities in research and development. Power2Power shows how we can assert ourselves in the global competition. Europe, Germany, Saxony, and Thuringia are acting in concert in the ECSEL program. In the negotiations in Brussels, the BMBF will advocate for the successful ECSEL program to be continued and administration simplified after 2020.”

The European semiconductor industry employs several hundred thousand people. “An important focus is the booming market for power electronics,” said Bert De Colvenaer, Executive Director ECSEL Joint Undertaking. “With regard to the global competition – especially from Asia – Power2Power will help increase the manufacturing share of European companies on the world market and further strengthen its leading positions.”

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